Fundamentalism in the 21st Century – Three Years Later

          Almost three years ago, while sitting in our little apartment on the outskirts of Paris, I wrote my first article for ShaperIron, an opinion on the direction of Fundamentalism as a movement. At that time I said: "What I am suggesting is that we may have entered a post-ism era where a movement will not define us and where our identity will not be limited to those who use the same labels we do."  My opinion was not well received in many quarters. In re-reading the article I find much confirmation taking place today of what I sensed at that time. As Dylan sang, "the times they are a-changin."

          It seems to me that many, including former or present critics of things I've written, are now declaring that there is no coherent Fundamentalist movement. Christian fellowship is now clearly and rightly extended to those who were formerly excluded. Fundamentalist leaders are now speaking in hitherto forbidden places and inviting hitherto forbidden persons to speak in their churches and schools.

          As we look around today, we are witnessing an enormous paradigm shift in the practice of biblical separation. Some recognize that much done under that banner was not biblical after all. Others are still trying to argue that their position hasn’t changed; only the application of principles has changed. Whatever the case, when you look at schools and churches and their lists of conference speakers, you cannot help but notice that men are speaking together who even five years ago would not be caught together on the same platform for fear of being criticized for compromise.

          All-in-all I am glad for the changes. However I would like to hear more admissions that positions have changed due to a better understanding of Scripture rather than pretending that nothing has changed. I’d like to hear some leaders say, “We were wrong but by God’s grace we will endeavor to enjoy gospel-centered fellowship and even partnership where possible.”  Of course, there are still some shrill voices out there claiming the higher ground and standing almost alone for the truth. Thankfully they are mostly ignored, or in any case, irrelevant.

          I concluded the above-referenced article with these words: “I have—or hope to have—fundamentalist friends who, while not sharing all of my concerns and criticisms, share a bond in Christ that is stronger than our differences. But I will not allow a movement to define me and to choose my battles. The Word stands above every movement and every culture in every time and in all places. To that sacred and timeless Word and to its Author we must yield and give our allegiance.”   



2 Responses to “Fundamentalism in the 21st Century – Three Years Later”

  1. Thanks for writing this.  I came out of the radical version of Fundamentalism that some have referred to as IFBx (ala Hyles, Gray, etc)
    I have been away from that brand of Fundamentalism for over eight years now and I do not miss it or the pragmatism that accompanied it.
    In reading about Fundamentalism now, I am always reminded that Jesus did not die for a movement or an idea…. If Fundamentalism survives, then it survives, if it dies, then it dies.  That does not change our standing with the Lord Jesus Christ…
    Thanks again for sounding the call of reason three years ago.  May more wake up and see the light!

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